General News of Friday, 9 January 2015
The Majority in Parliament has rejected claims by the Minority that the country is on the verge of returning to the league of Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) after raising concerns about the country’s continuous borrowing.
“If they [New Patriotic Party] are saying that we are going to HIPC because we are around 60 to 70 percent of our debt to GDP, why has America not declared Highly Indebted Rich Country? We will not go HIPC,” said the Chairman of the Finance Committee in Parliament, James Klutse Avedzi.
The Minority in Parliament on Thursday described the 2015 budget statement which was presented to Parliament in November 2014 as a “hopeless budget” which will not guarantee Ghana’s economic transformation.
The Minority leader, Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, addressing the media added that, “the stock of public debt has risen dramatically to Ghc70 billion representing 60.8% of GDP as at September 2014, adding that this is an increase in the debt stock by Ghc60.5 billion…This also represents an increase in the debt stock by 636% over a six year period, an average increase in the debt stock by 106.14% every year under the NDC regime.”
He thus expressed worry at the increasing rate of government borrowing, insisting that there is a high possibility that the nation will be listed again as a HIPC country.
Reacting to the Minority’s position on the budget on Eyewitness News, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Ketu North said all the loans which have been acquired by government are currently being judiciously used for various infrastructure projects.
“All the loans that have been taken are being targeted for various projects for which evidence are there. If they have eyes, they can see it, if they don’t have eyes, then they talk the way they are talking,” he taunted.
Mr. Avedzi recalled that during the tenure of the NPP government, the country was receiving HIPC relief of over $4billion, as well as debt relief from international bodies.
According to him, due to this financial support, the NPP’s debt stock was low, therefore its declaration of doom on the country’s debt stock is hypocritical.
He challenged the Minority to “tell Ghanaians how they used those monies.”
Mr. Avedzi accused the NPP of double standards because they were present when the budget was being approved.
“This was a budget that was presented to Parliament for which they as NPP voted to approve the budget. If they knew that the budget is a hopeless budget and it cannot turn around the economy, why then did they go and approve it and voted for it on the floor of Parliament?” He asked.
He wondered whether “…at the time the budget was approved, they [Minority] didn’t know that it was a hopeless budget? That is the double standard nature of the NPP.”